400 words. Those were the guidelines for my first magazine article. And, indeed, they served to cut through my writerly anxieties about writing the great American novel or the great American short story. The requirements were clear. Keep it short. Don’t over do it with the flowery language. Get the story done. No one wants to read more than this–at least not for the particular story I was doing for the magazine.
A few years later, that length, 400 words, is my litmus test for a brief, well-focused story. If the article goes beyond, I know that I am being wordy.
400 words also is just what I need to get myself writing. To jumpstart myself through the haze of not producing.
So, here, I offer you 400 words: as a concept and as a literal length of an entry in a blog.
Getting the story done.
Cutting it down.
Making it readable to the reader.
Done in an hour.
And in fact, the best 400 word entry for today’s blog post is 179 words.